Too much information!

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Motion to change the meaning of “media” to paradox creator. Because not for the first time in this media course have we been presented with the idea that media creates, negotiates, or manipulates conflicting possibilities. This week consisted of a look at the relationship between data and media, media enables data to be transmitted more easily but also opens up the doors to information overload.

So much information, how are we supposed to know what to take in? Howard Rheingold, in his mini-course on infotention, talks about it as a matter of attention; where do we focus our attention on. He has coined the term ‘infotention’ to describe “the psycho-social-techno skill/tools we all need to find our way online today, a mind-machine combination of brain-powered attention skills with computer-powered information filters.” (Rheingold 2011) We need to filter information with our own brain, but we are also fortunate to have computer-powered filters who do it for us.

Rheingold speaks of digital media as “tools” meant to “magnify our capabilities” in extracting information. Paul Edwards in ‘A Vast Machine’, also iterates a similar point. “You build new tools, gain new perspectives, and discover what you still don’t know,” (Edwards 2010) Even a Google search, filters out all the websites that are irrelevant to what we are looking for, and there are many of them!

Edwards uses the term ‘data friction’ for a vital part of filtering information and data. Journalists have the task of sorting through the material they gather from research in books, internet, interviews, events etc. They have to do this quickly and accurately, but this also gives them the power of presenting to readers the reality that they want to present. Edward uses the case study of climate change to illustrate the idea that the story changes when our perspective of it changes.

Therefore it’s important that we consider how our brain is filtering the information we see and what tools we’re using to assist us. But it’s particularly important to realise that the information we receive has also been filtered by someone else before us, and we’re getting someone else’s version of truth. Conspiracy alert! Okay, it’s probably not always the case, but it’s definitely something to consider.

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